It’s a known fact: in an ever more crowded, competitive and challenging market, successfully differentiating yourself is hugely difficult.
It’s not enough to talk about your products and services and explain why they are – or ought to be – the best.
Instead, you must show yourself to be authoritative, competent and capable of responding clearly and credibly to the questions asked around specific issues by your target publics, including clients, prospects, decision makers, media, the academic community, and so on.
In short, you need to prove that you are in a position to propose genuine solutions to real-world problems, by providing ideas and expertise, being perceived as a resource, and building a relationship of trust with the public.
In practice – being a thought leader!
Say it, say it, and say it again: content is key
There is little need to restate the extent to which content today – backed by a clear strategy – is critical to a company’s communication, and essential for attaining a position of thought leadership.
With this in mind, there is a need to focus on the subject matter experts that are present in every organisation, whether startup, SME or multinational: primarily, obviously, the top management – the founding entrepreneurs and senior executives – but also professional figures such as product and project managers, heads of Sales, and so forth.
The content that bears their name must resonate with current events, be entirely original where possible, yet always fit into a coherent action plan that unfolds over time.
Only in this way will content generate visibility, credibility and authority both for them and for the entire organisation, strengthening brand awareness, enhancing the company’s reputation, supporting lead generation and helping to close deals.
When being an expert is not enough…
Undoubtedly, skills and experience are essential for the creation of content of this kind. However, whilst subject matter knowledge is a necessary precondition, it is not, of itself, sufficient.
Consider, for example, a series of bylined articles pitched to the traditional media, or guest posts offered up for publication on popular blogs. To be capable of informing, educating and influencing the audience, they must also capture readers’ interest via clarity of explanation and an engaging narrative, whilst avoiding overtones of self-promotion that will inevitably trigger scepticism.
In essence, becoming a thought leader is about creating useful, quality, and, quite simply, pleasing content. And fundamental to all this, therefore, is the writing.
… it’s better to ask for help
However, responsibility overload and the resulting fragmentation of their time can prove to be critical and often insurmountable issues for the experts.
Neither should we neglect the fact that we can’t necessarily expect a propensity for ‘good writing’ from those whose qualifications, outlook and professionalism are rooted in other disciplines. Sometimes, for them, the mere idea of applying themselves to writing copy can conjure up nightmares!
This is why engaging a specialist consultant is almost always the most appropriate course of action.
But how would you recognise this ideal professional – the one you can trust to translate your thoughts and knowledge into compelling words – in a crowd?
That deserves another post…